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Tired Of Grey Skies? Here’s How To Give Your Rooms 6 Shots Of Sunshine

If you’re longing for sunny days but the weather’s not cooperating, you could change the climate indoors by embracing a sunshine colour palette.

Adding splashes of yellow to your decor with a lick of paint, a feature wall in a zingy paper or some vibrant accessories, will give it an instant lift.

Pick a shade you like, whether it’s canary, daffodil, buttery or a mellow golden hue, and then sit back and bask in the glow (no sun protection required).

1. Turn the tables on the weather

Yellow’s sunny properties make it ideal for a kitchen or dining room. Lift the spirits with a bright tablecloth or, if you’re up for some spring DIY, paint kitchen chairs in a bright yellow shade, or add a citrussy splash back.

2. Colour up with yellow

If you’re nervous of yellow (for some people, it can fall into the Marmite category) simply add pops of the colour in accessories, from tableware to lights.

3. Wake up a window

Guarantee a sunny outlook by dressing a window with bright yellow shutters, a blind or curtains. This colour is the ultimate mood booster – with a mellow undertone, it’s cheerful without being too in-your-face, or in its boldest form, it gives rooms confidence and  freshness.

4. Sit in the sunshine

No need to wait for summer blooms – take a shortcut with Joules’ Cambridge collection from DFS. Teamed together, yellow and neutral tones are in natural harmony. Calming greys or whites tone down the strength of yellow and, in return, the uplifting, sunny shade gives a scheme a personality and strength. Keep an eye out for DFS’s funky Tide sofa, in yellow velvet graffiti, too – available early June.

5. Warm up the walls 

If you’ve fallen in love with a yellow palette, create a feature wall with a patterned wallpaper. Alternatively, use the shade for paintwork – doors, windows and skirting – this is particularly effective when contrasted with a dark shade for walls, and will really make a scheme sing.

6. Brighten a bedroom

Turn up the heat in the boudoir with a shot of yellow for bedding, and if you’re yearning for tropical climes, conjure a far-flung sanctuary vibe with vividly patterned bedlinen. Add a few faux palms and some rattan furniture, and all you’ll be lacking are cooling sea breezes.

5 Fabulous Places To See Bluebells In The UK This Spring

A short burst of sunshine, a gentle rise in temperature… it doesn’t take much for Britain’s wildflowers to bloom.

But no display is more eagerly anticipated than the eruption of bluebells. Covering fields and woodlands across the UK, these delicate carpets of colour captivate photographers and nature enthusiasts year after year.

The season is short – lasting from April until May – so you’ll need to plan visits. These are some of the spectacular spots we recommend you try.

1. Brean Down, Somerset

Although normally associated with woodland enclaves, it’s possible to find bluebells by the sea too. Overlooking the Bristol Channel, the north side of this down is covered in flowers from May.

How: The area is free to explore. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk

2. Foxley Wood, Norfolk

Supposedly visible from space, Norfolk’s largest ancient woodland was once packed with light-blocking conifers, meaning very little grew on the forest floor. Due to the work of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, many of those trees have been cut back and carpets of bluebells have returned.

How: The forest is free to explore. Visit norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

3. Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire

With a renovated mill as its centrepiece, this wooded valley is characterised by ravines and waterfalls. In spring, bluebells burst from the forest floor, providing an additional attraction. It’s possible to explore independently, but on April 28 free guided walks will run through the Lower Crimsworth Valleys, where the main displays can be found.

How: It’s free to visit, although Gibson Mill has opening times. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags

4. Heartwood Forest, Sandridge

Thanks to the planting of 600,000 saplings, this ancient forest has become a source of pride and joy for the Woodland Trust. Bluebell fields regularly draw visitors, although the Trust warns people to stick to paths; in the past, more than an acre of flowers has been accidentally trampled underfoot.

How: Visit heartwood.woodlandtrust.org.uk

5. Godolphin, Cornwall

In April and May, the 16th century gardens of this historic home put on one of the best bluebell displays – with a footpath allowing easy viewing access. A popular spot, it does attract crowds – but in such a romantic setting it’s easy to forget other people are around. From April 16 – May 20, a Bluebell Festival will be held, giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about the flowers.

How: Adults, £9.50; children, £4.80. Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/godolphin

Top 5 Designer Tips For Giving Your Garden A Makeover This Spring

With longer days and better weather on the horizon, now’s the time to take a look at how your garden has fared over winter.

Garden designer and lecturer Hilary Thomas, who teaches garden and planting design online through Learning With Experts, explains:

“Gardens are great places to be creative, as even small additions such as painting the garden furniture, or the addition of colourful cushions, will have an instant and exciting effect.”

She offers five suggestions for giving your outdoor space a spring makeover.

1. Boost your boundaries 

During the cooler months, we spend a lot of time looking at our gardens from the windows of the house, so take a long hard look at your garden and decide whether you like the view.

Walls and fences are the same height in a tiny garden as a large one, so their importance increases as the size of the garden decreases. If all you can see are bare fences, spring is the time to do something about it.

Plant some structural evergreens at the back of the border so that as they mature, they will hide the boundary fence. Use plants like

Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Osmanthus x burkwoodii, Phillyrea latifolia, Pittosporum tenuifolium and Viburnum sinus. Plant some clematis between these shrubs, and they will mix and mingle, creating a soft boundary around the garden with summer colour and all-year interest.

If you look out at an unsightly concrete or brick wall, consider having it rendered and painted with an exciting new shade of masonry paint. Think carefully about the colour and select a few climbing plants with flowers and foliage that will complement the new wall.

2. Screen with green

If your sitting area is overlooked by the next-door neighbours, consider planting a row of trees along the boundary to block out their view.

Go for narrow, fastigiate trees such as Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ a flowering pear with wonderful autumn colour, or Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ a narrow form of our native hornbeam.

3. Think about how you use the garden 

Consider the main use of the garden and if it is primarily a space to sit, relax and entertain friends, consider digging up the lawn and enlarging the sitting area. Keep the paving simple and mix slabs with gravel or stone chippings to keep costs down.

4. Revamp your garden furniture

If the garden furniture is looking a little tired and you don’t want to buy new, put it in the garage or shed to dry off before rubbing it down and applying a coat of paint.

Try to select a colour that will fit in with the colour of the planting around the sitting area. There are paints suitable for both wood and metal furniture. Add some colourful cushions and tableware too.

5. Perk up your patio with pots

Spice up your back and front garden with colourful, welcoming pots. Your front garden should offer a welcome to visitors, so try to have a selection of colourful pots near your front door.

Containers come in a variety of materials, but a group of terracotta or glazed pots will suit most situations. Make sure the pots you buy will be the right size once you get them home, because most people buy containers that are too small and out of scale with the house and patio.

You can grow almost anything in a container; small trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbs and seasonal bedding. Clipped evergreens such as Ilex crenata, Buxus sempervirens and Phillyrea latifolia add a touch of formality to a group of flowering plants.

In spring, narcissus and tulips will add seasonal excitement and colour to a container planted up with a winter flowering shrub or coloured winter stems. In summer, a mix of herbaceous plants and seasonal bedding can provide colour from June through to autumn.

For more information on the full range of courses visit www.learningwithexperts.com.

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